The front page diary entry on potential SCOTUS nominees raised concern about Sears:
Another new name on this list, Leah Ward Sears, is raising concern because of her strong support for "traditional" marriage, including a 2006 op-ed in WaPo lauding the work of the Institute for American Values, an organization founded by David Blankenhorn.
Wikipedia is your friend, and I don't understand how its productive to knee-jerk attack a potentially good progressive nominee based on one mis-step and poorly chosen association (did you know Obama lived in the same neighborhood as a radical hippie terrorist?)
Below the fold, some of her decisions-- she would be better than Kagan.
Sears wrote a dissent in the case of Howard v. State (2000). The majority of the court rejected challenges based on right-to-privacy and first amendment considerations to a Georgia statute that criminalized the solicitation of sodomy. In her dissent, Justice Sears stated that she would have found the statute unconstitutional because it prohibited solicitation of legal (consensual; non-paid for) sodomy. Justice Sears saw this as a "content-based" speech restriction that could have no legitimate purpose because sodomy itself is legal.
So... we're attacking her for an op-ed, when she actually provided a dissent essentially defending gay rights.
In Fox v. State (2000), Justice Sears held that the warrantless search of a probationer’s house by a police officer (as opposed to a probation officer) is unconstitutional.
A nominee on record supporting the 4th Amendment. Important.
Sears wrote a dissent in the case of Reaves v. State (2008). The case involved the legitimacy of a warrant that authorized a search for evidence of murder and cruelty to children. Chief Justice Sears argued that the words "notes" and "papers", which were listed on the warrant as specific items that could be sought under its terms, "lacked sufficient detail to satisfy the particularity requirement of the Fourth Amendment."
Looks to me like a solidly progressive take on the 4th Amendment.
Sears wrote a dissent in LaFontaine v. State (1998). Justice Sears would have held an alcohol-check roadblock an unconstitutional search/seizure because, in her view, the particular roadblock allowed individual officers too much discretion -- "field officers had the discretion to control the time, the place, and the duration of the road block."
Again, a solidly progressive take.
Sears dissented from the Gibson v. Turpin (1999). The majority held that, as with non-death cases, there is no federal or state constitutional right to state-appointed and funded counsel for habeas corpus proceedings for murderers sentenced to death. Justice Sears would have found that such a right to appointed counsel exists for habeas proceedings for capital defendants. Justice Sears stated: "The official taking of a human life is the ultimate government exercise of control and power over individual liberty. If it is to be done, it must be done cautiously, dispassionately, soberly, and fairly. And fundamental fairness demands that a condemned prisoner have the benefit of competent counsel [on habeas]."
Didn't this case just come up. Sounds like she would have ruled just like Stevens.
Sears dissented from the majority opinion in the case of Wilson v. State(1999). Justice Sears argued that death by electrocution is unconstitutional and inconsistent with evolving standards of decency. Alternatively, she would have held the decision until the United States Supreme Court addressed the issue in a case it was then considering.
Justice Sears dissented from every death-by-electrocution decision until a majority of the Georgia Supreme Court declared it violated the Georgia Constitution in 2001.
This may even put her to the left of most nominees.
Greene v. State (1996). Justice Sears dissented in this capital case. She argued that the dismissal of several jurors who had "qualms" about the death penalty was incorrect. The United States Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Justice Sears and reversed, holding the majority applied an incorrect legal standard for juror dismissals.
Looks like she is for the most part about as good as we can expect, probably better than Kagan (who certainly is not where Sears is on the 4th Amendment).
Let's keep our eye on the ball here, folks, and not shoot ourselves in the foot.